• Counterpart by Rorie Smith

    Counterpart is a memoir tribute to the lives of two people, Major Ian Smith and Supin Smith, Rorie Smith's father and wife respectively. Written as Smith sorts through his father's possessions it is a reflection on the life of that decorated World War Two hero and those who passed before him, including both Smith's mother and sister, but with his Thai wife Supin; who battled Parkinson's disease for twenty five years being the other main focus.



    I want to call this book strange, but strange sometimes implies bad and this certainly isn't. A memoir by nature is billed as nonfiction and yet Smith states that Counterpart is 'an attempt by means of fiction, to be true to the spirit of who they were'. This is a memoir of a decorated war hero but the focus is not on the military and likewise a memoir of a Parkinson's disease sufferer but the focus is not medical. This is fictional nonfiction with a focus on who they were, a father and a wife, their personalities and quirks, rather than what they did for a living or what label defined them. Smith makes regular reference to the light and dark of life, that you cannot have one without the other. His version of Counterpart is, despite being a dedication to those that have passed - the living, bar Smith himself, are mentioned only in passing since their stories are still ongoing - the light to his father's dark Counterpart. Without his father's Counterpart, a manuscript so dark Smith chooses to destroy it, I doubt that this light version would exist.

    You should read Counterpart. It does not matter if you do not know Smith, his father or his wife. You should read it because it is the embodiment of what you would want written about yourself, not in the sense of the subject matter since everyone's life story is different but the level of care, love and the character that shines from the pages. It is like reminiscing with a relative of a certain age, the train of thought may not be quite linear, some details are glossed over and others polished up, history may have been ever so slightly rewritten, but these are the best stories. The ones that can evoke a smile and can show a persons entire character and personality in one short conversation. We all have stories like these if you take the time to think about it, like the time my great aunt's boyfriend decided he would go to her house to ask if she would go dancing with him at the weekend. So he did, while in the middle of an army exercise, in a tank...

    ...that is the joy of real life, you couldn't make it up.

    4/5

    SarahB


    Counterpart by Rorie Smith
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